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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Newport Storm Brewery - Rhode Island

The new theme of the weekends for me has become "An adventure and a brewery".  If I leave the borough to explore a new town or hike a new trail, I try to find a new brewery on the way or nearby to try.  After spending the day visiting the Newport Mansions decked out for the holidays, we decided to stop at Newport Storm Brewery in Newport, Rhode Island. 

Newport Storm is Rhode Island's most popular microbrewery.  Located in a commercial area outside of historic downtown Newport, you can get away from the crowds and sample some Rhode Island beer.  If rum is more your style, you can also check out Thomas Tew Rum by Newport Distilling Co., (both the brewery and distillery run by the same company) operation that started in 2006.  I had to drive so the rum tasting would have to be on another day with a different driver.  

Newport Storm has the beginning of most of your New England breweries. They all sort of go a bit like this: some guy working in corporate America questioning his life and worth in his field decides to take a leap of faith, open a brewery and after a lot of ups and downs, hard work and a vision, a brewery is born. Newport Storm has a similar story, their story goes like this: "4 guys from college came up with an idea to start a brewery. Coastal Extreme Brewing (or The Newport Storm Brewery as we are known by many) was the dream of Brent, Derek, Mark, and Will. These four spent their years at Colby studying the science that would help them understand how to make beer while also doing the “sampling” that would make them love beer. In 1997, staring at graduation and a life just working in “a job”, the idea was hatched to start a brewery". 

"On July 2, 1999 the brewery’s first beer, Hurricane Amber Ale, was released. Since then, the brewery has continued to slowly build itself and its reputation. In 2002 the brewery expanded into an addition 1000 square feet. In 2006 they started Newport Distilling Company to make Thomas Tew Rum, utilizing much of the same equipment and bringing back this historic practice to the area. Perhaps the biggest event of all came in 2010 when the brewery and distillery built a brand new facility in the North End of Newport which increased their square footage to 10,000, allowed them to build a beautiful Visitors Center and tour deck, and was their first opportunity to upgrade their equipment from when they first started in 1999."

When we arrived at Newport Storm, the brewery was decked in the Christmas spirit with lights, trees, stockings and other Christmas decor.  We walked in to try some beer and were excited to see that there were 6 different beers on tap.  You pay for your tasting at the counter (only $9 and includes the glass!) where you are handed a tasting card with the current tap list (as seen above).  You bring this card over and choose four of the beers on the list you want to try (for a little extra you can sample all six).  We tried each of their beers which ranged from 5% lagers to 11% special releases. 

Oktoberfest Marzen Lager (5.6%) good, typical light German style beer. 
Smoked Porter (6.1%) - Nice smokey flavor, great for the reason but definitely a one and done kind of beer
RI Pumpkin (6.7%) - very good pumpkin beer.  Not as sweet as most.  Uses roasted pumpkins and local spices 
Locale (7%) - mild Saison easy to drink, made with locally sourced honey.  Not my favorite Saison. 
Forister (8.4%)- Canada pale malt and malted wheat beer.  Hoppy and the barrel aging gives it an oaky finish.
Annual Release '16 (11%)- Sweet high test brew.  Chocolate malt, milk sugar and vanilla.  Fun and tasty but half a pint of this would be enough for me. 

Newport Storm prided themselves specifically on working with malt in different ways, rather than hops like most breweries, which gives their beer a much different profile than most of the other local microbreweries. Specifically, most of the new breweries are making variations on IPAs with usually a small set of hops (mosaic, citra being the most popular, both from the PNW) that while good, makes them have a relatively comparable taste.  Malts tend to bring out more sugar, so overall their beers were sweeter (especially the saison, which had honey added). However, this works really well with some types of beer, such as Marzen, which was the favorite of the night.  In a new world of local small-batch breweries, where all the trends point to IPAs, their beers were definitely much different than what I have tasted lately. 

After your bartender fills up your glass, you can take your beer up to the observation deck where you can get a good view of the "behind the scenes" action at the brewery. I thought this was such an awesome touch.  Head up the stairs and spend some time reading the brewery timeline, history and fun facts that spans one side of the wall.  The other side looks down on the bottling and canning operations of the brewery.  

Overall, the beers were good but nothing jumped out as me as amazing.  All drinkable with a lot of diversity of fun flavors.  The taps rotate often and there is a huge selection of bottle beer available in the store.  The tastings were at a really reasonable price, $9 for four good sized tastings, including a glass.  The brewery was 200% in the holiday spirit and it was a fun way to spend a Sunday evening.  I was really impressed by the space and the awesome loft that allowed you to get a glimpse into the brewery.  The timeline and history was a fun addition, and you could even watch the "Dirty Jobs" Newport Storm episode playing on a TV in the lofted area.  The staff working at the brewery were awesome, really knowledgeable, friendly, and passionate about the beer they brewed.  

Thank you Newport Storm for a great evening tasting local beers in one of my favorite New England towns.  We will be back to try the next rotation on tap and can't wait to see what spring brings to the taps. 

The Visitors Center (Bar/tasting room) is open for tours and tastings weekends and weekdays (closed to public on Tuesdays). Please note that there is a  'last pour' policy in place. Tastings cannot be purchased 15 minutes prior to closing so plan your visits accordingly! For groups of 10 or more planning to visit, reservations are required. Contact 401-849-5232 prior to your visit.

Sunday, Monday, Wednesday:    12-5pm
Thursday, Friday, Saturday:       12-6pm

During opening hours, visitors may enjoy a tasting of Newport Storm Beer and/or Thomas Tew Single Barrel Rum. Self-guided tours are available anytime we are open and include views of production from our observation deck. Guided tours (30 minutes) leave once daily at 3pm (additional 1pm tour June 1-September 30). 

Newport Storm Brewery 
293 JT Connell Hwy, Newport, RI 02840

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